After devouring your MFA book and every single archived post on the
blog, I can confidently say I would be lost without them both. You are
a wonderful map/compass/friendly neighborhood park ranger. Thank you.
I've got a quick question about letters of rec that I haven't seen
answered elsewhere. I'm applying for MFA programs in fiction this
winter. I've got a good idea of the people who will be writing letters
for me, and I've signed up for a letter service through my alma mater
(UC Berkeley) that will collect those letters and send them out to
grad schools. This lightens the burden on my recommenders--one letter,
one envelope, and they're done.
But here's the thing--I've seen several applications now that require
you to register your recommenders as part of the application, and some
schools that "strongly encourage" you to have your recommenders upload
their letters directly to the MFA program or grad school site. If I
was only applying to one or two schools, no problem. But with twelve
schools on my list, I'm worried about being a burden on my letter
writers. They're busy people! The more tasks that are required of
them, the higher likelihood that something will slip through the
cracks. (And that they'll come out of the experience distinctly averse
to recommending me in the future.)
Do I only ask for recommendations from people who love me enough to
deal with this craziness? Do I apply to fewer schools? Do I throw
"strong encouragement" to the wind and send letters in the mail as
Thanks ever so much,
P.S. I dig the opening of "The Winged Girl." Looking forward to the book!
Thanks for your question, Jenny. I cannot emphasize this enough: It is a real pain to write letters of recommendation (at least I think that it is). I want to focus on the content of the letter, and not a lot of shenanigans surrounding 12 uploads etc.
Use the letter service. Don't ask your recommenders to do that other stuff. Your application fee to your potential schools goes to pay someone to take care of those letters of recommendation. Let them handle it.
Do apply to as many schools as you like. Honestly (and this is the most important part of the answer).... If a program loves your writing sample then they'll look at the letters, not before.